by Patricia Dischler
I still remember the first grant I received as a family child care provider and how it felt like it had been a monumental waste of my time. I had filled out a ton of paperwork for the state to show them I was in need of support. Then I got the letter – “Congratulations! You are receiving a $1500 grant…” Sounds fantastic, right! But wait, there’s more…
The grant dictated that I was to use the money to purchase furniture for my child care business – and even named the specific vendor I was required to purchase it from. I didn’t need furniture. I had been in business for 10 years and had already accumulated what I needed. What I needed was money for college, money to pay someone to help me with accounting and financing, money to purchase a high quality curriculum or to attend a national conference to get out of my bubble and meet other family child care providers and learn from them. I ended up using the grant to purchase a bunch of smaller materials and toys that were a nice bonus to have, but honestly didn’t really need.
Since that time, I’ve connected with hundreds of other family child care providers who have the same story to tell. An agency receives grant or state funding to use to support family child care. They choose the product (curriculum, business management system, furniture, etc.). They choose the vendor. They make all the arrangements, then let the provider know. Sometimes it works out well, it’s what the provider needed and it makes a difference. But sometimes, it’s a waste of money, staff time, and other resources. In the end, agencies figure if they made some impact (which they do), that it was all good.
It’s time for a change. While it’s been wonderful to have agencies and states provide funding for improvements, and they have made improvements and gains for many providers, we can do more. We should do more. We have too little money flowing into this field to waste a single dollar of it.
BEFORE you apply for funding, BEFORE you plan for what to do with it when you get it, BEFORE you reach out to providers to let them know it’s there for them: find out what they need. Providers are more than happy to share with you what they will find most useful. However, simply asking providers isn’t always enough. There’s the whole “we don’t know what we don’t know” syndrome that gets in the way. Providers are not always aware of the solutions that are out there for them.
The solution is to find out more about their practices. What is working. What causes them stress. What their goals are. Getting a clear and holistic picture of each provider is the key to spending money wisely in our field.
This is what drives Family Child Care Experts (FCCE). We dive deep into what is working and not working to move a provider forward in their business practices, educator practices, and personal well-being. We can identify which products will be money well spent and increase the impact that your agency has in your community. Our Balance© Report can identify needs at both the individual provider level and the agency level. It’s quick, it’s cost-effective, and it is the FIRST step in supporting family child care providers and ensuring your funding makes the biggest impact possible.
We’d love to show you how! Contact us today!